WASHINGTON DC — An Arkansas man who put his feet up on a desk in the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during riots at the US Capitol was convicted Monday of joining in a mob attack. against the building two years ago.
A jury deliberated for approximately two hours before unanimously convicting Richard “Bigo” Barnett of all eight counts of his indictment, including felony civil disorder and obstruction of official proceeding.
Barnett lounging at a desk in Pelosi’s office made him one of the most memorable figures of the riots on January 6, 2021, the day Congress called a joint session to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
US District Judge Christopher Cooper is scheduled to sentence Barnett on May 3. The judge agreed to let Barnett remain free under certain conditions until his sentencing.
Outside court after the verdict, Barnett vowed to appeal his conviction, calling it “injustice.” He noted that the judge had denied his request to move his trial from Washington to Arkansas.
“This is not a jury of my peers,” he told reporters.
Prosecutors asked the judge to jail Barnett while he awaits sentencing. Justice Department prosecutor Alison Prout said the jury concluded that Barnett brought a gun into Pelosi’s office.
“We can only imagine what would have happened if (Pelosi) had been there at that moment,” Prout said.
Barnett, 62, testified last Thursday that he was looking for a bathroom inside the Capitol when he unknowingly walked into Pelosi’s office and was met by two news photographers. He said one of the photographers told him to “play it cool,” so he leaned back in a chair and threw his legs up on the desk.
“Did it occur to you that what you were doing might cause a problem?” defense attorney Joseph McBride asked Barnett.
“I was in the moment,” Barnett responded. “I’m just going with the flow right now.”
Barnett’s decision to testify was “unequivocally the right one,” his lawyer told reporters after the verdict.
“He had a story that needed to be told,” McBride said. “People needed to know why he came here, what his intentions were, and what he did while he was here.”
THE MOMENT OF THE FACTS
Prosecutors reported that Barnett had a stun gun tucked in his pants when he stormed the Capitol and invaded Pelosi’s office. Barnett was found guilty of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon: a spiked stun gun concealed inside a collapsible baton.
Barnett took a piece of her mail and left a note saying, “Nancy, Bigo was here,” punctuating the message with a sexist slur. The jury convicted him of one count of robbery for taking the envelope from Pelosi’s office.
Before leaving the Capitol grounds, Barnett used a megaphone to deliver a speech to the crowd, yelling, “We took our house back and I took Nancy Pelosi’s office!” according to prosecutors.
The committee investigating the assault on the Capitol published the video of one of the protesters taking pictures inside the federal building before the violent attack. To see more from Telemundo, visit https://www.nbc.com/networks/telemundo
The videos support Barnett’s testimony that a crowd pushed him into the Capitol as he approached an entrance, causing him to briefly fall to his knees as he crossed the threshold.
“We don’t have a choice!” he repeatedly yelled as he entered the Capitol.
After police ordered him and others to leave Pelosi’s office, Barnett realized he had left behind his American flag. Body camera video captured Barnett yelling at a police officer in the Rotunda to help him retrieve the flag.
More than 940 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 attack. Nearly 500 of them have pleaded guilty. Barnett is one of several dozen defendants in the Capitol riot whose case has gone to trial.
Barnett is a retired firefighter from Gravette, Arkansas. He said he regrets coming to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally where then-President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters.
“Two years of lost life. Misery for my family, ”she lamented.
While under house arrest last year, Barnett raised money by charging donors $100 for photos of him with his feet up on a desk.
A prosecutor told jurors during opening trial depositions that Barnett planned the trip for weeks and arrived prepared for violence.
For his part, McBride told the jury that Barnett was just a “crazy kid from Arkansas” who didn’t hurt anyone on January 6 and couldn’t have hurt anyone with the stun gun device because it broke that day. McBride sarcastically called it “the most famous home invasion case of all time.”
Prosecutors noted that Barnett had a history of arming himself at political rallies. In July 2020, they said, a 911 caller reported that a man matching Barnett’s description had pointed a rifle at him during a “Back the Blue” rally.
“Police ultimately closed the investigation as groundless due to apparent unresolved discrepancies in the evidence,” prosecutors wrote.
In November 2020, police were called to a Save the Children demonstration when a caller alerted Barnett that he was carrying a gun at the protest and acting suspiciously.